How To Choose the Right Paddleboard

By: Christi Shingara

Stand-up paddleboarding is a fun way to get around in the water and also a great way to get a full body workout. Paddleboards are made from a variety of materials which include wood, inflatable polyethylene, fiberglass and foam. If you are thinking of buying a paddleboard and not sure where to begin, here are some helpful tips to help with the decision-making process.

Wood

Paddleboards can be made out of different kinds of wood such as white cedar, beetle kill pine, and paulownia. The most popular material is bamboo. Bamboo is lightweight and very strong, which are the perfect characteristics for a well made paddleboard. It also is highly buoyant. The price point can run around $1000 or more.

Inflatable polyethylene

This material is the most convenient type of paddleboard out there. You can take them anywhere as they pack up nicely and can fit into a large duffle bag. Most inflatable paddleboard kits come with their own bag, paddle and pump. They are also very sturdy if pumped up to the proper PSI. They are constructed of PVC plastic and has a foam top which makes it very comfortable for not only standing on, but also yoga. Inflatable paddleboards are very affordable, costing around a few hundred dollars to $1,000. I use an inflatable paddleboard myself and bought the Roc paddleboard kit. I love it and how easy it is to use and transport.

Fiberglass

The most popular solid paddleboards are made out of fiberglass. Fiberglass is very sturdy and provides a smooth and faster ride. They are also easier to steer than boards made of different material. They have a foam core with many layers of fiberglass and then are covered in epoxy resin. The price range of these boards can range from around $700 to $2000.

Foam

Foam is very light and are easy to carry. Another great feature of these boards is that they can take a beating and still be durable in the water. They are a great option for the beginner and will glide along the water faster than inflatable boards but not as fast as wooden or fiberglass. The price point of these boards can range for from a few hundred dollars to a little over $1000.

The next thing to think about are the different types of paddleboards that are available. These include recreational, touring, surf, and racing. The shape, width and length are the determining characteristics that make each type of paddleboard unique.

Recreational

These paddleboards are usually great for the beginner and are generally considered an all-around board. The width of these boards run about 32 inches wide or more and the length is between 10 to 11 feet. The wider the board, the more stability and buoyancy you will have. They are not as fast in the water as other types of boards.

Touring

Touring paddleboards are even longer than a recreational board. They run about 11 feet or longer. As far as width goes, they are around 32″ wide. Another characteristic of a touring board is a pointed nose. This allows the board to cut through the waves by parting and directing the water to either side. These are great if you want to paddle for long periods of time or long distances.

Surf

Surfing on a paddleboard is definitely possible if you have the right board. These boards are shorter and thinner than the typical paddleboard. This is to help with maneuvering it through the water. They run between 8′ to 10″ in length. The hull is also wide and rounded. This helps the board glide on top of the waves. The width of these boards are around 29″-30″.

Racing

Racing paddleboards are the narrowest of the paddleboard types which is around 25″ to 29″ in width. This allows them to push through the water quickly. The lengths usually come in 12’4″ and 14′. If the board is long, it tracks better in the water. Another feature is a pointed nose in order to cut effortlessly in the water.

Picking out the right paddleboard can be daunting, but if you know a few core characteristics of each type of board, it will make the process easier. The best part is getting on that new board and enjoying your time on the water!

Check out my earlier post called: “5 Top Reasons to Paddleboard”

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